Diane Nelson, Director of Instruction

diane-nelson-portraitWest Vancouver Schools Premier Academy

Diane Nelson, Director of Instruction, is founder of West Vancouver Schools ten Premier Academy programs.

Chosen as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2012 by the Learning  Partnership, Diane was selected for her ability to communicate a compelling vision, to engage the community by consistently bringing together a highly knowledgeable and competent team of teachers, coaches, instructors, and other community members to work together to deliver quality programs for student-athletes.  Diane is an exceptional leader, one who continues to lay the foundation for the success of her students and the betterment of the community through a strong and vibrant public education system.

Twice nominated (2002 & 2012) for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the categories of Entrepreneurship, as well as Education, Training & Development, Diane has been honoured for her achievements that contribute to the well-being and future of the community. The YWCA Women of Distinction Award is recognized as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women.

diane-nelson-awardWith over 30 years experience in education, as both a teacher and administrator, Diane has obtained her Bachelor of Education, Diploma in Counseling Psychology, and Master's in Educational Administration, all from the University of British Columbia.

As a MindUP Trainer, Diane has provided numerous workshops and in-service for teachers to help them deliver an evidence-based curriculum that helps foster social and emotional awareness, enhance psychological well-being, and promote academic success. Diane inspires educators to create an optimistic classroom that promotes and develops mindful attention to oneself and others, tolerance of differences, and the capacity of each student to grow as a human being and a learner.

An educational consultant for the Vancouver Canucks' Community Partnership Program since 2005, Diane is the creator and author of the character education program called Fin’s Friends. The program was written for teachers to help them provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance ethical and responsible behaviour. This valuable classroom resource for teachers assists them with the teaching of social responsibility and character building. The program, written for Grades K-3, is being taught by primary teachers in over 3800 classrooms around the province. To date, the program is being used in over 35% of all K-3 classrooms in B.C. Diane last presented the program Nationally to educators at the Canada Character Conference held in Abbotsford, B.C. October 2015.

diane-nelson-w-gordon-campbellDiane's leadership style is marked by her entrepreneurial spirit. Her accomplishments are numerous including founding, owning and operating the Vancouver Griffins, the first women's professional hockey team in Western Canada, a member of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). The team featured Olympians such as Nancy Drolet, Cammi Granato, Shelley Looney and Courtney Kennedy. In November, 2010, Cammi Granato was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Many of her Griffins' artifacts are on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame, including the signing of her first pro contract with the Griffins' organization. In 2002, the BC Sports Hall of Fame recognized Diane for her achievements in sport as part of an exclusive group of 35 outstanding women leaders and legends.

A long time athlete, she has competed in numerous sports including half marathons, 10km runs, triathlons, dragon boating, field hockey, figure skating, bodybuilding and swimming. Some highlights include 6 gold medals at the 1986 World Lifeguard Championships and Miss Vancouver, 1983 Bodybuilding Championships.

Diane's entire career has been about giving students an opportunity to better themselves and realize their hopes and aspirations. She firmly believes that enthusiastic and thoughtful guidance is the best way to assist our youth on the path that they choose.

Gina Castro

Gina Castro

Gina Castro, a life-long dancer of more than 25 years, was trained at Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts. A company member with professional performing group Dancestreams for 3 years, a competitive dancer in the Upper Island Music Festival for over a decade, and performer of various classic ballets from Nutcracker to Sleeping Beauty, Gina was involved in the professional world of dance from an early age.

At UBC she ran the Dance Horizons Dance Studio, taught class for university dance students, and was the Artistic Director of Thunderbird Dance team for 3 years. At UBC Gina completed her Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education and later her Master of Education Degree.

Teaching Dance has been at the heart of all passions for Gina from the age of 15. At present, Gina is in her 10th year of teaching at West Vancouver Schools’ West Vancouver Secondary School. Gina is acting as Director of Dance, teaching Dance in the program she built for the district from the ground-up.

Gina has written and designed new courses and curriculum that include: “Streetdance” – in which students audition for a competitive dance crew and compete across the lower mainland. Outside of the high school, Gina is a senior teacher and choreographer for Perform Art Studios where she teaches jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical dance. Gina is a prominent figure in the Dance community within the lower mainland of Vancouver.

Miranda Widgery Webber

Miranda Widgery-Webber

For the past 12 years, Miranda Widgery-Webber has been the Artistic Director/ Owner of Perform Art Studios, a dance & performing arts school with locations in North Vancouver and Bowen Island.

Miranda oversees the training more than 400 local dance students each year, the Artistic and programming vision of the studio as well as, the direction of 10 professional dance faculty members.   Miranda also co-ordinates community dance outreach programs providing professional dance instruction for recreation centres and in elementary schools.

Miranda is a Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) certified teacher and a teacher training mentor for the RAD’s teacher training program. Most recently, Miranda was invited to travel to Japan as a guest Ballet adjudicator.

Before moving back to the North Shore, Miranda was classically trained in ballet and the performing arts at many schools internationally & throughout Canada including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, the prestigious Hammond School (England) and the Royal Academy of Dance, (England). Miranda has taught and choreographed in England, U.S.A. & Hong Kong.

Diane Nelson
Director of Instruction
West Vancouver Schools Premier Academy Programs
Office Direct Line: 604-981-1150
Cell: 604-786-3575
Email: dnelson@wvschools.ca